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Khama’s civil service turnaround plan


In its quest to redifine the public service, as per the recent public service study, the government has numerous interventions up its sleeves, come April 1st this year. The study was conducted to unearth the challenges of the civil service and recommend possible intervention strategies.


The recent decision by President Lt Gen Ian Khama and the public service boss, Ruth Maphorisa to downsize the public service by not replacing resigning and retiring employees was only the beginning as it will be followed by strict measures to make sure that the public service stays in shape and maintains its effectiveness and efficiency.


Khama recently revealed that he wants civil servants to be promoted on performance basis. During a visit to civil servants in Kweneng, the President said: “I would not have a problem if a perfoming certicate holder is promoted to supervise a degree holder or any other higher qualification if that certicate holder is a better perfomer.We want people who are willing to serve,” he said.


The reasons behind downsizing the civil service,Weekendpost has established will be to; “make it more affordable and to bring it in line with the new-scaled down role of the government in economic activities and to provide civil service with approapriate incentives,skills and motivation to enhance management and accountability.” Botswana’s wage bill is at 16/17 million Pula from a 54 billion budget and there are hundred and thirty thousand civil servants in the country.


A high ranking source at DPSM said that the downsizing will be achieved by privatising many of the inefficient and ineffective public agencies.The government, he said, will thus establish a symbiotic relationship between the private and public sector to achieve the goals of development.There has been constant clashes between the government and the private sector over the develoment of the country.


Maphorisa confirmed in an enterview with Weekendpost that Permanent Secretaries (PSs) and the rest of the civil service will with effect from the 1st of April be required to put on name tags among others. Ministers however will be excluded from this exercise.


The study has recommended the governmenment to inject new values and work ethics, approaches and attitudes to meet the growing demand for efficiency and productivity. Name tags, according to the study, will add discipline, a greater awareness of time and a sense of responsibility among others.


Our source revealed that “the government with the aid of the study has come to the realisation that the civil service traditionaly serves the state rather than the citizens, a culture that the government intends to root out”.


Despite this,  another study by Salvator Schiaro-Campo has established that “in many countries in the South Saharan Africa, the civil service has sharply deteriorated,Botswana being one of the few exceptions.”


While he commends the emergence of local community initiatives,Campo says it is difficult to imagine how the civil service can be reformed on a lasting basis in most African countries without substancial improvements in governance,accountability,transparency and adherence to the rule of law.


Rightsizing-risks and oppotunities  
Campo’s service study revealed that,  “central government employment may be high in a particular country as a useful “flag” but proves nothing in and of itself. The role of the government and degree of centralization vary from country to country”.


“For example, although France’s central civil service, as a percentage of population, is one of the world’s largest (about 3.5 percent), and the United Kingdom’s is one of the smallest (1 percent), total government employment accounts for around 10 percent of the population in both countries,” he said further adding that what this proves is merely that the French have chosen a more centralized system of government.


Determining the “right size” of a government workforce,he said, must be done on a country-by-country basis, taking into account the functions assigned to the state in that country, the degree of centralization, the skills profile, and, of course, the fiscal outlook.


Retrenchment according to Campo,can provide the where-withal to improve incentives and produce fiscal savings. But overemphasis on re-trenchment gives civil service reform a bad name and virtually ensures resistance.


“Moreover, retrenchment is almost always financially costly in the short term—and is often politically costly as well, particularly when unemployment is high. Political costs are not inevitable, however. Under certain conditions, public support for downsizing the government may offset opposition from those whose jobs are threatened, and internal opposition can be defused if downsizing is managed candidly and equitably,” he said.


According to Campo,when downsizing is necessary, it should not be approached as an end in itself or merely as a reaction to fiscal problems.


“Without careful planning and respect for the “law of unintended consequences,” retrenchment programs carry major risks. The short-term risk is skill reduction, if the program inadvertently encourages the best people to leave”, the study warned.


Furthermore,according to the study, “(Voluntary severance and early retirement can be especially problematic in this respect. The difficulty is that these downsizing measures are the easiest to carry out.) The medium-term risk is recurrence of overstaffing if personnel man-agement and control systems are not strengthened. Long-term risks include staff demoralization, lower-quality service, and loss of credibility if retrenchment is perceived as arbitrary and opaque, particularly in societies ridden with ethnic, clan, or religious conflicts”.


What are other reform measures?
In addition to cost containment, civil service reform includes diagnostic and structural measures. Structural measures,according to Campo encompass reforming the salary structure, especially to restore competitiveness at higher levels; increasing the transparency and fairness of civil service regulations and giving greater weight to merit; increasing internal mobility; strengthening the capac-ity to manage personnel; providing training; and increasing accountability to the public.


Diagnostic measures on the other hand include civil service censuses, functional reviews of ministries, user surveys, data collection, and preparation of compendiums of regulations.

“Even in countries where circumstances are not yet conducive to reform, governments are often interested in diagnostic measures. A particularly useful starting point is a civil service census, which, if well designed, will not only uncover “ghost” workers and fraudulent wage payments but also provide the foundation for a human resources database and improved personnel management systems—which are needed to, among other things, prevent the recurrence of irregularities,” he said.


Wage policy
Campo warns that the short-term fiscal savings from com-pressing wages are obvious but must not be allowed to drive wage policy. Deter-mining the adequacy of wages,he says, requires a country-specific, in-depth comparison of public-private wage differentials for compa-rable skills.


“Certainly, when public wages are too high relative to private wages, pub-lic wage cuts improve both resource alloca-tion and equity. However, developing countries typically have either barely com-petitive or inadequate public wages. In these cases, public wage cuts set in motion a vicious circle of demotivation, underper-formance, and justification for further reductions. (Fortunately, the reverse may also be true: even small wage increases can trigger a positive dynamic),” he added.


In practice,Campo says government wage reduction has usually entailed larger proportionate cuts at higher levels (or salary caps) and, thus, progressively greater salary compres-sion.


“(Internationally, average public wages range between 3 and 6 times per capita income, and the “compression ratio” be tween the highest and the lowest salary ranges from 3:1 to 20:1, with a norm of about 7:1.) Although the short-term equity considerations are understandable, the long-term outcomes of such a policy are the departure of better employees, difficulty inrecruiting qualified outsiders, and a “deskilled” labor force too poorly paid to resist temptation, cowed by pressures from politicians and influential private interests and unable to perform adequately.

Beyond the deterioration of public goods and services, the result is a worsening economic climate for the private sector and an increase in transaction costs for the economy as a whole,”he said in his study.


He continued that In recent years, governments have sought ways to target wage increases to essential skills or functions. This,he said, may well be the right policy, but a word of caution about “performance pay” is in order here.


“It is intuitively appealing to link bonuses to yearly performance in terms of specific out-put measures. However, the facts show that bonus schemes have been only marginally effective in improving performance, even in the private sector and especially in the public sector, where outputs are difficult to quantify,” he warned.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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